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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Interview With the Vampire

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Interview With the Vampire
by Anne Rice

Plot Summary:
This is the story of Louis, as told in his own words, of his journey through mortal and immortal life. He recounts becoming a vampire at the hands of the radiant and sinister Lestat and how he became indoctrinated, unwillingly, into the vampire way of life. His story ebbs and flows through the streets of New Orleans, defining crucial moments such as his discovery of the exquisite lost young child Claudia, wanting not to hurt but to comfort her with the last breaths of humanity he has inside. Yet, he makes Claudia a vampire, trapping her womanly passion, will, and intelligence inside the body of a small child. Louis and Claudia form a seemingly unbreakable alliance and even "settle down" for a while in the opulent French Quarter. Louis remembers Claudia's struggle to understand herself and the hatred they both have for Lestat that sends them halfway across the world to seek others of their kind. Louis and Claudia are desperate to find somewhere they belong, to find others who understand, and someone who knows what and why they are.

Expectations:  I have not seen the movie, but it seems like this story is ingrained in our pop culture.  I was not familiar with anything about it really, but I knew it was a new take on the vampire lore (at the time) and Lestat seems to be popular so I was looking forward to seeing what he was all about.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  I appreciate the set up of a new take on vampires and the intricacies of crafting a dark, almost depressing story of a sensitive newly made vampire, but I also wanted Louis to stop whining and take a stand already.  But I know that I have very little patience for weak main characters.  And it was surprising to find that all of the vampire characters were pretty much unlikable, but maybe that is only because we see them through Louis' eyes, and he is not inclined to see the good or interesting in vampires.  I was also surprised by the meandering path the story took.  It's not plot-driven, except perhaps in a few spots, so it reads very realistically as a memoir of a vampire.  It's heavily atmospheric, and does draw you in but  Louis' apathy in most things really grated on my nerves, and in the end I wasn't sure what the takeaway point of the story was.  Would Louis feel better if his story was understood as he understood it?  Is being a vampire really that bad?  Perhaps I need to read the rest of the novels in the series to understand where Anne Rice was taking this story.

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  1. It might help you to research what Anne Rice had just gone through in her personal life just before she wrote this book. It may have served as a catharsis for her or a way to express her grief.

    I actually found it refreshing to see main characters who are unlikable or conflicted. Vampire books written in the last 10 or so years tend to put vampires on a sexy romantic pedestal of perfection, which is boring to me.

  2. Thank you for your comment Carrie! I did actually read a bit on the death of Anne's daughter, which was very sad. It is interesting if from that the themes of this book was created. Unlikable characters in novels are interesting but they don't necessarily appeal to me personally. If Anne Rice wanted to end the novel without hope, then I admire her for it, but it did nothing for my enjoyment of the novel. I suppose I like a balance in the narrative, for instance like in Wuthering Heights - a novel that is by no means my favorite, but one I like - it is well written, has unlikable characters, but also has a redeeming storyline in the end to balance the destructive love that starts Wuthering Heights. But this is just what I prefer and for all I know the next books in the series will restore the balance. I like to think of it in terms of musical resolution. If the book relies on dissonance, I like to have some consonance somewhere. But not all music (and books) will give you that resolution, and that is up to the artist.